Dismay on the Downs: Goodwood bosses 'gutted' as 5,000 crowd trial is cancelled

Goodwood's carefully laid plans to allow 5,000 racecourse members and guests into the final day of Glorious has been scuppered.

Goodwood's public areas will remain empty on Saturday as they have been all week / Picture: Alan Crowhurst, Getty
Goodwood's public areas will remain empty on Saturday as they have been all week / Picture: Alan Crowhurst, Getty

The government has called a halt to all trials of crowds coming back to major sport events like racing and cricket.

Goodwood racecourse tweeted the news: "The government has informed racing’s leaders in the past hour that it has withdrawn permission for a pilot event involving customers, to proceed at Goodwood tomorrow. The racing on Sat 1 August will continue behind closed doors as it has on the previous four days of the meeting."

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Adam Waterworth, managing director of sport at Goodwood, said the racecourse was given a heads-up around 11am by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport that the prime minister was about to announce the sport crowd trials were being put on hold.

Adam Waterworth, Goodwood's MD of sport, has been speaking about the loss of Saturday's 5,000 crowd trial / Picture: Alan Crowhurst, Getty

"I'm gutted - especially for the team here who have put so much work into getting everything ready."

Waterworth said Goodwood had spent a six-figure sum getting ready for the Saturday crowd, but he stressed: "It was never about the money. We were pleased to helping sport move forward in getting crowds back."

Goodwood bosses said they understood that concern about the national infection rate was the primary reason for today's decision.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said on social media it was "very disappointing news". "I know the huge efforts cricket, snooker and horseracing have made to welcome fans back. We'll keep working together on their safe return ASAP," he said.

Goodwood Racecourse and the Racecourse Association have been leading work on the pilot event, with the safety of members and all those attending as the most important priority.

Government and public health officials, national and local, have been briefed throughout on the plans and had approved the approach being taken. We are clear that the decision to cancel is not a consequence of any concerns about these plans or the measures taken by Goodwood to keep attendees safe but relates to the changing national situation.

The racecourse said: We are very disappointed for those who were hoping to attend tomorrow's event and for all those who have worked so hard to make it possible for spectators to be present. We will engage with public health authorities and DCMS over a rescheduled pilot at the earliest opportunity."

Waterworth added: "We have been led by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport throughout and whilst we are disappointed by the news, the health and safety of attendees, customers and staff is of paramount importance."

David Armstrong, Chief Executive of the Racecourse Association, said; "The RCA is very disappointed to learn that the pilot event at Goodwood Racecourse scheduled for tomorrow has been postponed. We understand and respect the issues raised within the Prime Minister's announcement and have always maintained that public health has been paramount to any event, be it racing resuming behind closed doors or with crowds.

"The work undertaken by the sport, and especially the Goodwood team, to bring the safety protocols to life has been very thorough and detailed. It is worth reiterating there were no concerns with the protocols put in place by the sport and Goodwood Racecourse and we wish them the very best for the final two days of the Qatar Goodwood Festival which will take place behind closed doors.

"The RCA will continue to work closely with Government to plan future pilot events to welcome back crowds subject to the latest public health advice."